Our yearly review
Well we’ve made it through the first month of 2018, so we are definitely overdue a recap of what we’ve achieved in 2017, and what we have planned for 2018
Reading through my post from the start of last year, it’s reassuring that we did hit quite a lot of the targets we set for ourselves. Those we didn’t get round to were mostly because we were so busy with our day job that it left no time for our own pet projects (open-sourcing our Intranet), or due to factors outside of our control which prevented us from starting others (waste collection day finder – more on that later).
So, without further ado, here’s a few of our high points from last year…
new.shropshire.gov.uk is dead, long live shropshire.gov.uk!
Our proudest achievement was the promotion of new.shropshire.gov.uk to be the one and only website for the council, taking over as shropshire.gov.uk at the beginning of November. We started with a beta homepage, which went through a few tweaks here and there based on feedback from staff and the public, and, behind-the-scenes, the team worked tirelessly to migrate the final few remaining services from our old website to put us well ahead of schedule for making the switch.
It has been 5 years in the making, starting out as the brainchild of Martin Wright, and going through a number of phases of furious development or being put on the back-burner depending on the outside demands on our resources. Throughout all of this time, it has been a project that we have all pushed for, and we wouldn’t be where we are now without the dedication of the current team and all of those involved who have since moved onto other pastures (looking at you Chris Jones, Louise Howells, Lewis Moorcroft, Lorna Perry, Steve Chamberlain, Cait Wrigley, Chris Ellis, Andy Burns, Rob Gallagher, Mike Sheridan, Florent Mauer, Debbie Martin, Nigel Bishop). Of course, this also includes those within the council supporting our work on a daily basis (pretty much everyone from ICT to service managers and officers).
Now that the dust has settled a little bit, there will be some blog posts to come from others in the team to explain the processes, trials and tribulations and honest hard work that went into this project.
Spinning out of the work on our website, we’ve been honoured to be asked to design and build websites for other organisations, and council services that need something a bit flashier to help promote what they do. Last year we launched 5, and we’ve got a number of requests in the pipeline for 2018.
- www.shropshireccg.nhs.uk (interim site based on our existing templates – full redesign/rebuild due early 2018)
Plans for 2018
Self-service – “My Shropshire”
One of the biggest projects Shropshire Council has ever undertaken – the Digital Transformation Programme (DTP) – is starting to bear fruit. A number of old back-office systems are being reviewed, and either upgraded or replaced with more joined-up solutions that will allow us to create a variety of online options for the public to interact with us.
Our CRM (Customer Relationship Manager), is one such system. This provides the functionality behind our current “self-service” offering, which primarily is a collection of online forms. It has its pros and cons, and most definitely could be improved, which is exactly what is going to happen over various stages during 2018. Details are still being finalised, but the ultimate aim is to create a “My Shropshire” account for the public to use when they interact with us, which would tie into a number of other services and benefits beyond the simple eforms that we currently have.
Waste collection day finder (a.k.a Bin day finder)
This was planned to take place last year, however we realised that there were changes on the horizon for our waste service provider (Veolia) and for our own CRM that would potentially make any work planned redundant. Now that those changes are in progress, we’ll be looking to rebuild our bin day finder in the summer, and tie the functionality into our website and “My Shropshire” accounts to make it easier for people to view their scheduled collection days and print their own calendars.
We’ve got a few websites lined up between now and the end of March, one of which is the previously mentioned redesign/rebuild of the Shropshire CCG website. Also on the list is the continued work to revamp the Shropshire Learning Gateway, which will be an ongoing project of reviewing and rebuilding it service-by-service onto a new website, much in the same way we did when we built new.shropshire.
We’ve got two schools websites under development at the moment, which gives us a chance to flex our design skills for a different target audience, and these will act as our pilot for planning and rolling out a full service for schools.
As for the other websites underway – watch this space!
As mentioned before, there is a lot of work happening to replace/improve and integrate back-office systems across the council, and these improvements will also have an impact on the website.
We will be rolling out web chat on our website to allow customers another way of contacting the council, which will initially be set up on a few key service pages before being fully available across the site.
As mentioned before, we will be starting the work to create a “My Shropshire” account, tied to our CRM. This is an evolution of the standard “log in to use our forms” approach, which will see our web content enhanced with information relevant to whoever is logged in (i.e. on our Recycling and Rubbish pages you will automatically see when your next collection day, and the collection type). The account will also federate the login details with a number of other online systems being used across the council, so you will only need to remember one username & password, and sign in once to access them all.
Work is underway to merge the data behind the two of our main online directories (Family Information Directory and Shropshire Community Directory), and also have this tie more closely into our website. This would again pull relevant information across onto certain pages, based on the geographic detail and the customers location (either from geolocation or the address data of the logged-in customer), which will help promote the services available on the directory and make it easier for people to find services relevant to them.
Last, but not least, we will be continuing to monitor how our website is being used, actively seeking feedback, and systematically reviewing each service to ensure that our design and content is the best we can make it.
Expanding the team
With all the work lined up for us, we will be taking on a few more developers to help spread the load. Initially we’ll be looking to give the opportunity to staff within the council, to allow people to learn new skills and try a different career path, but keep an eye on our Twitter account for news of external vacancies!
As per every year, there will always be a few unexpected opportunities and setbacks, and we are ready & willing to meet these & more!